Charlotte USA's life science and biotechnology companies already attract global attention. With the work of the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI), the industry grows even further as startup companies get the chance to mature.
Dr. Robert Wilhelm, UNC Charlotte vice chancellor for research and economic development, works closely with partners from academic, public and private organizations to generate research and growth opportunities. Housed at the UNC Charlotte campus, CRI is the science and engineering partner for the university.
"We work for other researchers on campus to promote transitional research for business partners, and we work on making research talent and research infrastructure available," Wilhelm says.
Biotech startups are a natural outcome for the resources provided by CRI. The institute provides office and lab space, giving people interested in creating a life science-based business more viable options.
"We offer a number of different ways to support seed research," Wilhelm says.
CanDiag is a prime example of a spin-off company formed at the institute. Founded by Dr. Pinku Mukherjee, the company offers a blood test for early breast cancer detection. Another university spin-off, SoyMeds, works to develop soybean seed-based therapeutics to treat and cure diseases. The university boasts at least 28 spin-off companies.
In addition to incubating young companies, CRI offers unique networking opportunities. One such vehicle is the Charlotte Life Sciences conference, conducted each October. Ventureprise Inc. is another important resource "“ the organization helps startups move to the next level in a business plan.
The institute also builds valuable research partnerships, such as the Charlotte Pancreas Cancer Project, which partners university research capabilities with work at the Levine Cancer Institute.